Phone News

2013

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Update: Free Weibo...

App that worked around Chinese internet censorship soon blocked by Apple


Link Here 14th December 2013
Full story: Internet Censorship in China...All pervading Chinese internet censorship
GreatFire.org's Free Weibo, a tool that allows you to search and find censored tweets on China's popular microblogging platform, Sina Weibo, was temporarily made available in the Apple apps store in China after being previously blocked.

Charlie Smith, who along with Martin Johnson created Great Fire, a website that monitor's censorship in China explained that Great Fire had recently updated the app, which threw the Apple censors off for a short period of time. But only a day later, the app was blocked again.

The app is only blocked in the Chinese Apple store but it can be downloaded everywhere else. Furthermore, says Smith, those who were able to download Free Weibo before it was blocked are still able to use the app, problem-free.

Apple has censored a number of applications before, most recently a popular censorship circumvention tool called OpenDoor, usually pulling them quietly without much warning. With Open Door, the developers learned about the censorship only after users brought it to their attention.

 

 

Offsite Article: Co-Traveler...


Link Here 5th December 2013
Full story: Internet Snooping in the US...Prism and secret internet snooping
NSA gathering 5bn cell phone records daily, Snowden documents show

See article from theguardian.com

 

 

I'll Name that Tune in 1...

German authorities create a phone app to rapidly identify banned neo-Nazi songs


Link Here 4th December 2013

Police in Germany have developed a smartphone app that helps them to identify right-wing extremist music from just a short clip.

The app, which has been dubbed a Nazi Shazam , in reference to the popular music-identification app, allows German authorities to recognise neo-Nazi music at far-right rallies in just seconds through its audio fingerprints . Ministers are set to meet this week to discuss implementation of the new piece of software.

According to Der Spiegel, the Federal Review Board for Media Harmful to Minors has collated a list of 79 pieces of music it considers to have racist lyrics or that promotes neo-Nazi ideology.

 

 

Update: Sex Criminals...

Report finds that Apple has banned 59 digital comics from apps in 2013


Link Here 24th November 2013
Full story: iPhone iCensor...Apple is censorial about apps for iPhone
Apple is censoring digital comics by banning them from apps on the iPad and iPhone.

According to a report from Publisher's Weekly , in 2013 alone Apple has banned a total of 59 digital comics from apps such as Comixology due to the company's censorship guidelines for apps. Most of the comics are banned due to what Apple views as graphic sexual content.

One of the most notable comics banned by Apple is the new series Sex Criminals by writer Matt Fraction and artist Chip Zdarsky. The comic is published by Image Comics, and is a comedic comic about a couple who discover they can stop time whenever they have sex, and use their power to rob a bank.

Apple originally approved Sex Criminals #1 for the Comixology app, but then rejected the second issue. The third issue was similarly rejected along with a retroactive rejection of issue #1.

Strangely, while Apple banned almost five dozen comics from Comixology and other apps this year so far, it lets those comics into the iBookstore. Apple's content guidelines, it seems, don't actually apply to Apple's own apps.

 

 

Carrot Dating...

Oh dear, buying a girl a swanky dinner on the first date is now considered prostitution


Link Here 22nd October 2013
An online dating app has been attacked as sexist and has been accused of being prostitution.

Carrot Dating, developed by an MIT graduate, allows men to bribe women into offering them dates with everything from jewelry to a tank full of petrol. Users wanting to get the romance going can even offer prospective suitors plastic surgery.

The idea behind the app is that users dangle a carrot in exchange for getting women to go out with them, according to its creator Brandon Wade.

Business Insider's Christina Sterbenz wrote:

Through Carrot Dating, users (but really men)... can buy credits to send gifts to other users ... so they'll agree to a first date. That sounds quite like an activity illegal in most of the continental US --- prostitution.

Aside from being blatantly sexist, Wade's app clearly won't build the chemistry needed to fall in love.

In fact, this problematic app is teaching men that women are greedy idiots who can't see through blatant and pathetic misogyny.

For the record, if you offer a woman a present in exchange for a first date, then you're implying she can be bought, much like a hooker.'

 

 

Update: App Attack...

Chinese internet censors target mobile apps that publish news and information not sanctioned by the state


Link Here 2nd October 2013
Full story: Internet Censorship in China...All pervading Chinese internet censorship
A Chinese media censor has threatened to shut down mobile apps that don't comply with repressive government restrictions.

The State Internet Information Office claimed that some mobile apps were vehicles for pornography and obscene information, and harm the physical and mental health of youngsters .

The censorship will also affect apps that provide access to foreign news outlets blocked by Chinese authorities.

Under fire are apps like Zaker, China's most popular news aggregator with 17.5 million users, and Chouti, whose slogan is Publish what shouldn't be published . While the government has previously urged service providers to self-regulate to avoid the spreading of rumours , this latest more hard-line approach is a sign of diminishing patience.

From today, the government will shut down and ban any apps that fail to maintain order in news dissemination on the mobile Internet .

In the last two months, over 1,000 people have been arrested in China for crimes related to internet use. [ This equates to 4.4 arrests per million population per year. This compares with 28.3 arrests per million population per year in the UK (for just malicious communications)].

[I guess that if the size of the population is taken into account, this could be less than number of internet arrests in Britain].

Apple Duly Purges Anti-Censorship Browser from China App Store

See  article from  theepochtimes.com

The strict regime of Internet censorship and surveillance enforced by the Chinese authorities drives many Internet users to seek out tools they can use to get around the restrictions, programs like OpenDoor, a browser that was available recently from the App Store in China.

Until Apple removed it.The removal of OpenDoor follows a pattern of Apple bowing to pressure from Chinese authorities, removing content from the Chinese version of its App Store to conform to the regime's demands for censorship. The removal took place in July of this year, according to the Chinese edition of Radio Netherlands Worldwide.

OpenDoor has 800,000 users on Apple devices; one third of them were or are from China, according to OpenDoor developers. Users from Iran and Pakistan, states that also practice Internet censorship, give the app high praise on its Facebook page.

 

 

Censored Chat...

Pakistan bans all mobile phone chat services to protect 'moral values of society'


Link Here 30th August 2013
The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has instructed all the cellular operators of the country to immediately stop all kinds of chat packages, including voice and SMS, at any time of the day.

A previous directive had banned late night chat services but the phone companies had found ways around the rules.

According to the latest directive titled Directive relating to packages offered by CMTOs contrary to moral values of society , cellular operators continue voice and SMS package (bundle offers) with different names despite a ban imposed by the PTA.

The PTA has previously banned all kinds of late night packages in November 2012. However, the cellular operators start selling these packages with different names and times.

Later, the PTA conducted a comprehensive survey which revealed that the chat packages are still operational under different names in clear violation of the PTA directives.

The cellular operators' consortium had approached the Supreme Court over the previous ban and proceedings on their petition are still pending there.

The telecom industry officials said the PTA this time without consulting the stakeholders again issued a directive on packages which generated a major share of the industry revenue. They said they will decide the future course of action after a meeting.

 

 

Offsite Article: The Banned #Hashtags of Instagram...


Link Here 27th August 2013
Instagram blocks searches like #proanorexia and #thinspiration. This got us wondering what other hashtags Instagram blocks users from searching.

See article from thedatapack.com

 

 

It's Time to Legalize Cell Phone Unlocking...

White House agrees with US petition


Link Here 5th March 2013

Official White House Response to Make Unlocking Cell Phones Legal. It's Time to Legalize Cell Phone Unlocking

By R. David Edelman, Senior Advisor for Internet, Innovation, & Privacy

Thank you for sharing your views on cell phone unlocking with us through your petition on our We the People platform. Last week the White House brought together experts from across government who work on telecommunications, technology, and copyright policy, and we're pleased to offer our response.

The White House agrees with the 114,000+ of you who believe that consumers should be able to unlock their cell phones without risking criminal or other penalties. In fact, we believe the same principle should also apply to tablets, which are increasingly similar to smart phones. And if you have paid for your mobile device, and aren't bound by a service agreement or other obligation, you should be able to use it on another network. It's common sense, crucial for protecting consumer choice, and important for ensuring we continue to have the vibrant, competitive wireless market that delivers innovative products and solid service to meet consumers' needs.

This is particularly important for secondhand or other mobile devices that you might buy or receive as a gift, and want to activate on the wireless network that meets your needs -- even if it isn't the one on which the device was first activated. All consumers deserve that flexibility.

So where do we go from here?

The Obama Administration would support a range of approaches to addressing this issue, including narrow legislative fixes in the telecommunications space that make it clear: neither criminal law nor technological locks should prevent consumers from switching carriers when they are no longer bound by a service agreement or other obligation.

 

 

Doing the Mature Thing...

Vine adds a near as dammit adult age restriction for new app users


Link Here 7th February 2013

Vine - Twitter's new video clip sharing app - has had its age rating increased to 17+ on Apple's store, the highest option. The software had previously been rated suitable for 12-year-olds.

It follows complaints that some of its six-second segments were pornographic.

Blogging service Tumblr and photo-sharing service 500px have also seen their iPhone and iPad apps boosted to the maximum age rating over the past fortnight.

And by the same logic, all web browsers will soon be 17 or 18 rated too.

 

 

Doing the Mature Thing...

Tumblr adds a near as dammit adult age restriction for new app users


Link Here 1st February 2013

After Apple pulled the 500px photo app from iTunes over a porn controversy, it seems Tumblr is doing what it can to avoid the same fate by adding a 17+ age warning to its iPhone and iPad app.

The multi media extension for Twitter now restricts new users and updaters to those aged 17 or older. (The age is set at 17 rather than 18 to pay lip service to US commercial censorship that denies a platform to adult only content, so that companies can claim to be family friendly. 17 rated material is fine as it is deemed not quite adult only. Hence nearly every mainstream film or game that is rated 18 in Europe, is rated 17 in the US. The R rating for films and the M rating for games are both 17 ratings).

You must be at least 17 years old to download this app, Tumblr writes in its description of the app in the iTunes App Store, because it contains Frequent/Intense Sexual Content or Nudity.

 

 

Offsite Article: New US phone law a danger to free speech...


Link Here 27th January 2013
An end to phone unlocking in the US

See article from blog.indexoncensorship.org

 

 

Offsite Article: Apple: Want to criticize religion? Write a book, don't make a game...


Link Here 20th January 2013
Full story: iPhone iCensor...Apple is censorial about apps for iPhone
Censorship guidelines explain why Apple bans game set in Syrian conflict

See article from venturebeat.com

 

 

Update: Real World Censorship...

Apple bans Endgame: Syria as it doesn't like games set in the real world


Link Here 8th January 2013
Full story: iPhone iCensor...Apple is censorial about apps for iPhone

A game that explores the Syrian civil war, Endgame: Syria , has been rejected by Apple due to App Store guidelines forbidding games that solely target a specific race, culture, a real government or corporation, or any other real entity .

Apple say that Endgame:Syria, which explores a real news event and aims to show users the range of factions and peoples involved in the situation, fell into this category and so was rejected.

The game's designer, Tomas Rawlings responded:

This decision is a shame really as it makes it hard to talk about the real world. Our aim is to use games as a format to bring news to a new audience and submission processes such as this do make it a lot harder for us.

We'll be making changes to the game and re-submitting it but it does mean we'll have to strip some of the meaning and context from it to pass Apple's submission process and that is not ideal.

 

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